Myths and Facts About Birth Control

When it comes to deciding whether or not to have children, contraception is an important tool to have. Between 2017 and 2019, 65% of sexually active women used some form of contraception. This includes female sterilization (tubal ligation), birth control pills, long-acting reversible contraception (LARC), and condoms. With such widespread use of birth control, you may be confused over how effective or safe some methods are. Being factually informed about all of your options is important to health.

If you’re a woman in Arlington, Texas looking for contraception options, help is available. Dr. Joan Bergstrom and the team of doctors at Women’s Health Services have decades of experience offering a variety of treatments and services to women including birth control.

Here are some common myths about birth control:

Myth: birth control can cause cancer

This is a myth that surrounds birth control pills specifically, but the facts are not absolute. According to research, oral contraceptives cause a slight increase in the risk of certain cancers, such as breast and cervical cancer. Even in these cases, the overall risk is low, and not all pills carry the same risk. However, research also shows that birth control pills also reduce the risk of other cancers, like ovarian, colorectal, and endometrial cancer.

Myth: natural methods are ineffective

This refers to confusion surrounding a number of natural methods, including the withdrawal method and fertility awareness. Because the overall effectiveness of these methods is lower than other forms of contraception, many people simply think they don’t work at all.

Fertility awareness is also known as the rhythm method, and with it you monitor your ovulation cycle to know when to abstain from sex or to use condoms when you’re fertile. This method can include monitoring your menstrual cycle on your calendar, checking your temperature before you get out of bed, checking your vaginal discharge daily, or a combination of the three. While using this method requires more work than many other forms of contraception, it is actually 76-88% effective for couples that use it. Pulling out before ejaculation (the withdrawal method) has an overall lower percentage of effectiveness (about 78%) but done correctly, can work. 

Myth: birth control can prevent STIs

Because condoms are a common method used in preventing many sexually transmitted diseases (STIs) as well as birth control many think you can use it or other barrier methods to prevent getting STIs at all. However many STIs can be contracted by contact with other parts of the body. Herpes develops in other areas than the genitals, for example, along with others that can spread through infected skin and body fluids. Sharing needles with an infected person can also cause you to get an STI, so birth control methods are just one way to slow the spread rather than overall prevent it.

Myth: birth control can damage fertility

Many people get nervous about the effects that birth control can have on hormones over the long term. This can cause concerns over hormonal contraceptives, such as IUDs, birth control pills, patches, and implants. But there is no evidence that long-term use of any of these methods will affect your ability to have a child if you decide to, as a 2011 study shows.

It is normal for your body to take a few months to get your hormone levels back to normal if you stop using birth control, but pregnancy rates after that time period are about the same as they would be if you hadn’t taken any form of contraception. Infertility becomes more of a risk with age, but taking birth control for extended periods and stopping doesn’t increase that risk.

Myth: birth control can cause weight gain

Hormones are one of many chemicals in the body that can affect weight, so many people think that birth control methods can cause you to gain weight. However, there is only evidence of negligible weight gain, if it happens at all. A 2016 review of several studies found little to no evidence of weight gain, and studies that showed weight gained only averaged 4.4 pounds.

There are a lot of birth control options, and you can choose multiple methods. But know the facts before making your decision. If you’re ready to examine contraceptive options, make an appointment with Dr. Bergstrom and Women’s Health Services today.

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